By AJ Aitken, Group Director of Food and Beverage for Harbour Hotels

We are so very proud to be named Seafood Restaurant of the Year because this national award denotes all that our Jetty restaurant concept stands for.

Sustainability is imperative to us at The Jetty, in Mudeford, Dorset, for two major reasons:

  • If we continue fishing unsustainably we will have no fish left, what fish there is will become more and more expensive.
  • With our Chef Patron having worked at sea on the trawlers, the other biggest reason for encouraging sustainability is the future of trawlers and fishermen. Already the British trawler fleet is greatly reduced.

Sustainable seafood is of great importance to the full Jetty team; Chef Patron Alex Aitken is a great advocate of sustainability, especially our fish and shellfish resources.

Alex’s first occupation on leaving school was in fact as a deck hand on a trawler, fishing out of the port of Dunbar on the East coast of Scotland, this was at the age of 15/16, trawling for varying species with various types of trawl.

Alex says of his time on the trawlers: “Whilst exciting and lucrative (we were a very successful trawler catching tons of fish), you do start to think…where do all the fish come from?”

“I have also experienced lobster, crab, prawn and langoustine fishing with creels and pots, a far more sustainable method than trawling, as the heavy trawlers can damage the seabed and the habitats of our seafood.”

Mudeford, where the flagship Jetty restaurant is located, currently have no trawlers; the focus is on line fishing, pots, creels and static net fishing, which are more species specific.

We at The Jetty enjoy using the varying species that are caught along the South Coast; it gives variety to the menu and utilizes all of the catch.

We are also currently in talks with a local Mudeford fisherman, with a view to sponsoring a new purpose built fishing boat.

With our menus ever changing, our ‘Jetty Catch’ uses only local day boat fish, from Lymington to Lyme Bay, which can change three times a day. We have recently opened another Jetty restaurant in Brighton and are enjoying the fish and shellfish from Brighton and Newlyn fisheries.

With the above policy we can buy small batches of various species, rather than large quantities of a few species.

With more and more news coverage about the state of our seas and fishing stocks, customers are becoming more aware.

We train our staff on all of the species we serve and how they are caught, also the seasons why we should not be landing fish when they have roe. We teach that our inshore hen lobsters are illegal to land with berries (eggs) and where possible the actual boat that landed the fish is noted on the menu too.

Tips on Buying Sustainable Seafood:

  • There is a lot of information online and several initiatives –  including Dorset Conservation, Defra and many others
  • Buying local is favourable – if buying from local fishermen pay them promptly. As a restaurateur, I always like to pay my local suppliers very promptly – we are a cash business with high margins and, especially with fresh fish, would have sold it within hours, or at least in three days, of purchasing and have our profit in the bank
  • Buy or research the availability of species before you write your menu. You will buy better and fresher, it’s a little extra work but it does make a difference
  • Farmed fish species, are these good for sustainability? A good farm can relieve the pressure on the natural stocks.